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    PUTIN EXPLAINS HIS DECISION TO DISMISS THE GOVERNMENT

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    MOSCOW, February 25, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin gave two reasons for his decision to dismiss the government.

    They are political and administrative-organizational reasons, said the president while meeting with the members of the cabinet he fired yesterday.

    "What is taking place is, in fact, a scheduled measure. A question arises: what was the reason for doing this and whether this should be done three weeks prior to the elections? I have two reasons - political and administrative-organizational," the president said.

    "In my situation, as the incumbent president and simultaneously a candidate for the post of president, I can and therefore consider it my duty to acquaint the public with the man I will offer as the chairman of the government," Mr. Putin said.

    The president recalled that the head of government is the second highest ranked person in the government.

    "In the annual message to the Federal Assembly I stated that such issues would be resolved in the course of consultations with the parliamentary majority," Mr. Putin continued. "This demands that certain efforts be made, it can bring elements of uncertainty, and it will take additional time.

    "And now we come to the second reason [of the dismissal of the government], the administrative-organizational one. If we look at the Russian Constitution, we will see that the government needs to resign when a new president is elected so that a new government, in line with the constitution, can be appointed within the scheduled timeframe, in early June of this year. This creates additional difficulties in the way of administrative reform.

    "If we take into account the fact that we intend to see this [the reform] through and the government is engaged in this, then the government will be 'suspended' twice before June. Primarily, because it needs to be appointed, and secondly because it is being reformed. The heads of departments will not know how and in what capacity they will work.

    "I think that you will agree with me that it is hardly possible to speak about effective work of the government during these months. It is proceeding from these considerations that I made the decision to dismiss the government prior to the elections.

    "Yesterday when Kasyanov and I discussed today's meeting, Kasyanov said that it was the first time ever that the president was coming to the White House in connection with the resignation of the government. This is quite understandable because the previous events of this kind involved some complications and difficulties."

    Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and acting Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko took part in the meeting.

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